Juneau All Aboard with Creation of a ‘No Idle Zone’ for Ships

In a KINY story that celebrates the 20th anniversary of the electrification of Juneau’s Princess Cruises dock, City Manager Rorie Watt stated that two decades ago few people anticipated the growth in cruise ship tourism or the growth in ship sizes. “This was a good bet. It’s been a good bet for the community”  because Princesses’ payments to our local power utility, AEL&P, lower both residents’ and business’ electric bills. Renewable Juneau board members, seeing how many international ports have followed Juneau’s lead in providing shore power, are delighted to see the CBJ seeking opportunities to expand shore power for its two newest cruise ship docks.

“Shore power in Juneau has been a significant win-win situation, not only for Princess but also for the customers of Alaska Electric Light and Power Company and the residents of the City and Borough of Juneau who have been incredible partners over the last 20 years,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “Our beneficial collaboration has paved the way for the cruise industry to reduce air emissions and allow cruise ships to ‘plug in.'”

SOURCE: PR Newswire

During the summer of 2019, prompted by strong public outcry over reduced downtown air quality from excessive ship emissions, Renewable Juneau led a petition drive that generated nearly 1000 signatures calling for additional cruise ship dock electrification.

This month, the city applied for a federal transportation grant that would cover most of the costs needed to electrify these two newest docks. The CBJ Assembly has demonstrated strong support by agreeing to provide a match of almost $5 million, a cost that can be paid for with Marine Passenger Fees. Additional support for this effort has also been expressed by the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA), as well as by nearly all major cruise lines that visit Juneau.

Assembly member Maria Gladziszewski told the Juneau Empire, “I’m super confident that this is something the people of Juneau really want. We have the capability to do it.” Assembly member Wade Bryson agreed. “Our community has overwhelmingly asked for dock electrification,” he said. “For years people have asked for this. We have plenty of opportunities to pay this back. This is an excellent return on investment to get a 4-1 federal match on our project. Lots of positives for the community with very few drawbacks.”

Plugging in cruise ships was also at the top of the action item list identified by Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon’s Visitor Industry Task Force. The VITF noted that additional cruise ship dock electrification will improve air quality in the downtown area and eliminate thousands of tons of carbon emissions.

It is important to note that dock electrification is not an isolated Juneau issue. It all started here, but over the past two decades, much of the cruising world has pulled ahead of us, with docks along all global coastlines ready to plug in ships or gearing up to do so. From San Diego to Miami, Norway to Korea, from Italy to China, docks are electrified and dozens more slated for the conversion.

Let us know what you think about the creation of ‘No Idle Zone’ for Juneau’s cruise ships!